EMDR, Bodywork, Mindfulness, and the healing of trauma


After the 9/11 terror attacks, the NYC government prepared a plan to provide for thousands of therapy-seekers. They assembled a dream team: cognitive therapists, psychoanalysts--the best of the best.

But no one showed up.

The city called people to ask why. It turns out that they had gotten help elsewhere, and the top answers were...massage, yoga, acupuncture, and EMDR. EMDR can help when medications and traditional therapy have failed. I often get clients who have been in years of therapy with no results, or on countless medications. The other things mentioned are not cures, like EMDR is, but really help reduce stress, and can augment EMDR therapy.

NOTE: I always have to add that I am not endorsing the Hindu components of yoga; in fact, I consider them incompatible with my own religious beliefs. But yoga itself still gets research-proven results if you throw out the religious elements and treat it as a relaxing form of exercise. This was first proven in the treatment of veterans with combat-related PTSD, actually. So don't throw the baby out with the bathwater.

In any case, at the time, in 2001, EMDR was considered "pseudoscience," shunned by "real" doctors and therapists. Now, following dozens of research studies, EMDR is established as a first-line treatment for trauma, used by highly trained professionals. In 2019, the International Institute for the Study of Traumatic Stress rated EMDR as one of only five trauma therapies strongly shown to be effective in the treatment of PTSD in adults. How things change!